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Understand Google's advertising policies, including ad approval status and account suspension
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Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

In October of last year, Google suspended one of our AdWords accounts for “untrustworthy promotions.” Google refuses to provide us with reasons behind its decision. We believe we’re in compliance and that Google’s policy team hasn't reviewed our site.

 

Our suspension first took place at the same time Google enforced suspensions on many other sites in our space. Some deserved their suspensions. They were doing bad stuff. But it was a mistake to group us with those policy-breakers. We have always followed Google’s rules.

 

Since October, it's been our goal to prove to Google that we are a rule-abiding advertiser. We have made numerous changes to our site so that we go far beyond Google’s policies. We even provided them with trade references from some of our big-name partners. But like clockwork, after each appeal escalation, we got a generic email saying they wouldn’t reverse our suspension.

 

Only after we sent the trade references did we begin to suspect why our efforts had been fruitless so far.

 

We had been communicating with an AdWords specialist via email, and he told us that sending in the reference letters would be a good idea. He said, “Please do send across the trade references from your lenders. It'd give our teams more perspective on the authenticity of your business.”

 

After we had sent in the trade references, I called Google to see if they had received them. The AdWords specialist checked with the policy team and told me they had received the letters but hadn’t had a chance to look at them yet. She said someone would reach out to me shortly.

 

Soon after the call, I received an email that said, “We’ve confirmed that your account is in violation of our AdWords policies.” The generic letter didn’t mention the reference letters. I don’t think they ever looked at them.

 

As an advertiser, we can only communicate with the AdWords specialists. We are not allowed to contact the policy team directly. The specialists say it’s policy not to give the reasons behind a suspension. They’ve even stated that they don’t know why the policy team makes its decisions. If you ask me, that’s a little worrisome. Google has given us no reason to believe they are reviewing our site.

 

Based on what I have heard from some of our colleagues in the industry, it’s my opinion that the policy team has never looked at our suspended sites. Instead, they are blocking us simply because we belong to this industry but are not generating enough revenue. (We’ve noticed that bigger companies can advertise, even though they are sometimes in violation of the Google Financial Policy.)

 

If that’s what’s happening here, it’s not fair that an honest adviser like us should get punished just because we don’t make as much as the big guys. One other thing: Google’s apparent process of pushing out smaller advertisers to favor big businesses is not good for the consumer.

 

Thank you for reading my post. Please let me know if you have had a similar experience with your company.

3 Expert replyverified_user

Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

yes -- if the policy-teams conclude that there is nothing that can be done
to change their decision or fix a flagged issue, and their decision is final,
then typically no additional information or further details will be given.

yes -- the google-policy teams may look at the entire on-line landscape,
feedback from users or consumer protection authorities, business-models,
types of businesses, products or services that tend to be prone to abuse
by untrustworthy actors, or related business with these characteristics
that may potentially pose an unreasonable risk to google's users, their
safety or overall experience -- therefore, an entire industry-type may
be restricted, or at the least, google may be much more conservative
in terms of reviewing a particular business within that industry.

both seem to have been true for quite some time.

 

see also

https://blog.google/topics/public-policy/an-update-to-our-adwords-policy-on/

 

Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Rising Star
# 3
Rising Star

There are some industries that receive special attention from Google, making it difficult to get sites approved, including:

 

locksmiths
free software
computer support

loans

health products that make non-scientific claims

 

The common theme is that if Google is aware of problems in these niches, which can lead to illegal behaviour, then they need to extra careful. Google will want to avoid contributing to such things if possible. So they will err on the side of safety.

 

If there is any bias in allowing major advertisers to advertise, and not their smaller competitors, my guess is that being major provides trust signals that Google can pick up on. I severely doubt that major advertisers get special allowances due to their ad spend.

 

Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Relevancy and  users trust (in ads) is a cornerstone of the Google business model. Once search results or ads are not relevant or cannot be trusted (because of a business model).  Hence,  restricting certain business models,  sounds to me a legit business practice.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Yes -- but Google shouldn't let only one or two businesses represent an entire industry. I'd understand blocking us if we had made an error, but as I see it, Google just swept all of us smaller guys under the rug without any review, and are now providing the consumer with only a couple of options. If Google is going to block an industry, then okay I can deal with that and move on. But they are letting a company or two (that use our same business model) advertise. The rule seems to be, "Yeah, you can advertise with that business model, just so long as you're one of the big guys." This can't be the best solution for the consumer or for small businesses. 

Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I don't mind it if Google wants to give us special attention. Our legal team is smart and has made sure that our site goes above and beyond Google's policies. We can confidently stand to any amount of scrutiny. We just want to our site to be reviewed instead of suspended without cause. 

 

If you're right, and Google is looking at the trust signals put out by the bigger guys, then I would argue that this is a flawed system. By only letting the larger companies advertise, Google is effectively shrinking the market for the consumer and giving them fewer options. We provide a better service than the companies they are letting advertise, but the customer will never hear about us because Google shut us down without reason. 

 

I don't understand how a company who has come out against net neutrality would be so comfortable dishing out this kind of justice. Google needs to either ban our entire industry, and ban the keywords associated with it, or practice due diligence and review an advertiser before suspending them. Otherwise, they are hypocrits.

Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

But they are not restricting the entire business model. They are letting a couple of the big guys advertise and then suspending all of the smaller companies without reason. They are creating a monopoly, which probably is not the intention, but it is what's happening. And please don't get the wrong idea -- when I say "smaller," I mean we're not a fortune 500 company. But we are a legitimate business with employees respected inside and outside of the industry. 

Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

restrict may mean severely limit or simply much more conservative when reviewing
a particular business within an industry -- not necessarily an entire across-the-board

prohibition -- although both certainly seem possible given google's related policies

and terms-of-service related to their advertising programs.

importantly perhaps, this is mainly a peer-to-peer forum -- generally, only
someone inside google has access to google's internal business-decision
making processes and most google support-specialist do not seem to have

full access to all that is reviewed or the extent of any review by the internal
policy-teams with respect to any specific business; related, google tends
not to discuss internal, private, account-specific, or legal related, issues
within the public forums.

if there is any chance of re-review or reinstatement then those details
are most typically indicated within google's original suspension email.

also, potential policy violations by others may be reported directly to google.

 

Does anyone else think Google’s policy team shuts sites down based on industry type, and not merit?

Top Contributor
# 9
Top Contributor

In terms of the Policy - all advertisers are equal.

I have seen hundreds of suspensions cases. Once  I drilled down to the "nuts and the bolts", I couldn't find any bias  towards big advertisers.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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